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Saturday, June 25, 2011

The harder I work, the luckier I get.

A great quote from Samuel Goldwyn.  Well this lucky girl is within days of empty-nesting it to the upper west side of Manhattan.  I am excited.  The movers come on Monday.  You might appreciate, perhaps knowing me a bit by now, that the thought of endless museums and galleries in NYC (combined with my dream science job) has led to a near permanent smile on my face lately.  I'll be a voyeur, looking in on the super-cool hip artistes, like young Charlotte Young, soaking it all in.  Click to view her artist's statement.  Brilliant!  :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

John Singer Sargent, 1856-1925

Nonchaloir (Repose), 1911
oil on canvas, 25 1/8 x 30 inches (64 x 76 cm.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
photograph Michael Weinberg Photography 

During a few hours before a meeting today I ducked into the National Gallery of Art in Washington D. C..  Standing in front of this painting I was reminded of how much I liked the work of John Singer Sargent.  The satin of her clothing, painted in whites and yellows, practically shimmered on the wall in front of me.  Click to really get the picture.  The model was his niece.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tax the Rich, David Mabb

 Go see new work by our favorite William Morris inspired artist.  
Wednesday, 29th June, 10-7pm
Refreshments 12-2pm
Flowers Galleries, 21 Cork St, London 

Wish I could be there!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why we travel....

 Butterflies and poppies, 1889

 Roses, 1890

 Emperor moth, 1889

 Blossoming almond tree, 1890

The Bridge in the Rain (after Hiroshige), 1887

Are you reminded of anyone?  A famous painter perhaps?  One we have paid homage to before on this blog?  Amsterdam is the home of the Van Gogh Museum, caretaker to many of this famous artist's paintings and sketches.  I'm sure there are readers of this blog who know far more about Van Gogh than myself but, when confronted with the entire oeuvre of this mad genius, I was moved by a side of him I had never seen before, namely paintings influenced by his fascination with Japanese art and culture.

Van Gogh never traveled in the East (unlike his pal Gauguin who eventually made it all the way to the western Pacific) but he was inspired by the beauty and simplicity of the Japanese aesthetic and incorporated those influences in obvious ways in his paintings over a short period in the late 1880s.  Looking at these paintings I reflected on how this blog, a continuing mish-mash of travel and art, is propelled by that same spirit of finding inspiration in the unbelievably diverse cultures of our world. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where in the World?

tulips & cannabis....

 ....more bicycles than you can imagine possible in one place...

Very distinctive architecture that, minus the bright tropical colors (below), looks suspiciously similar to that which I saw last week in Willemstad, the capital of Curacao....hmmmm.   If you've guessed where I am you also know that a pretty amazing museum is nearby....stayed tuned....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kuna Leg Beading....

Two posts today....I never got a good picture of the Kuna women leg beading but it is so amazing I downloaded this pic from the internet.  The patterns are incredible especially when you realize it is made by wrapping one long string of bead around and around your leg, with one line of stitches holding the whole thing together (you can see the stitch on her left leg).

More on Molas....

Mola are the iconic craft of Panama, made by the Kuna Indian women as part of their traditional dress.  An authentic mola takes two weeks to six months to make and starts its life as part of a paired set that make the front and back panel of a dress top.  They originated in the 19th century as fabrics became more widely available from colonizers and they are inspired by the traditional body painting of the Kuna.  Mola are constructed with a reverse applique technique and one of the criteria by which the quality and value of a mola is judged is how many cut-away layers were used in the construction.  Other qualities to look for include: originally used as a dress, not just made for tourists; fineness of stitches and evenness and width of cutouts; complexity of embroidery and stitched designs; and overall artistry of color and design.

I found a wonderful shop in the Casco Viejo section of Panama that sold antique mola that had already been made into pillows.  I am on the road again and left the shop info at home but will add the specific details here at a later date (it was around the corner from the renowned ice cream shop). 

  (all click to enlarge)



Friday, June 10, 2011

In Port in Curacao...

The word "port" doesn't really do justice to the sweet little bay, Caracas Bay, that we have tied up in (due to the fact we couldn't fit under bridge to main harbor in Willemstad).  The pic above was taken from port side of can just make out some of ship's crew swimming.  Most ports are the skeeviest places ever.  Other crew went off on bikes that were pulled out of storage, some went for hikes or runs....and of course some went down to the great little thatched bar, Pop's, not a quarter mile up beach.

Later in day, Bride of Deepwater Horizon pulled up next to us, on her way to Gulf of Mexico.  The crew were laughing as five years ago both this "ship" and the JR were side by side in dry dock in Singapore being built and renovated, respectively.  Small world even for big vessels.

 The JR travels with its own guard shack which gets lifted off deck with the ship's crane...

Farewell JR.  Hopefully I'll sail on you again someday soon!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Bridge & Possibly Most Important Machine on Ship

Don't worry, the softee machine is not on the bridge....yesterday we were talking with the "camp boss" Alex who runs the galley, and asked him how he planned menus for eight weeks at sea, a full two-hour meal service every six hours that will, in every case, be breakfast for some, lunch for others, and supper for the rest.  He said that the first thing he does is find out where all the scientists/crew are from for that particular leg....Japan, Russia, Philippines, Germany, India, France, etc so he can plan traditional dishes from each of those countries.  A little bit of home after many weeks away from incredibly sweet and thoughtful.

Geek humor alive and well on the high seas....

Jesus in your pancake?  Or a research vessel in your microscopic mineral thin section....

Every expedition has a T-shirt logo contest that gets added to the wall-of-fame in the stairwell.  I liked this one....Shatsky Rise is in the western Pacific.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dolphins and flying fish off bow!

A large pod of dolphins with babies this afternoon!  They would leap out of water on our bow wave and land on their backs, generally looking like they were having a ball...

JOIDES Resolution, The World's Most Important Research Vessel

I've been vague about what the JR is and why I am on it.  The JOIDES Resolution is a drilling ship that for nearly thirty years has traveled to every corner of the world's oceans doing scientific research.  It is the flagship of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, a consortium of about 16 member nations, funded by national government research dollars (e.g. your tax dollars!), that undertakes basic scientific research that requires drilling capability in the deep sea.  You could think of it as the oceanographic equivalent of the International Space Station.  Through recovery and analysis of deep ocean sediments and rocks, the JR has made possible fundamental discoveries in plate tectonics, Earth's climate history, the deep biosphere (did you know organisms live in rock miles below the ocean floor?), earthquake hazards, mineral resources, etc. etc.

A typical cruise length for the JR is two months (the boat can spend 75 days at sea without reprovisioning).  A party of about two dozen scientists will come on ship (having applied from institutions around the world) and undertake their expedition, aided by about 100 additional people who work on the ship (drillers, deckhands, caterers, lab techs, engineers, mates, etc).  This particular week is one of those extremely rare moments when the ship is underway without every spare bunk being gobbled up by a scientist----a between-expedition transit from the Pacfic to Atlantic.  The ship's operators kindly allowed four of us to tag along, a science writer (my dad, Chet Raymo), a journalist (Amy Mayer), and an artist (Wendy Jacob).  I've spent four months at sea on this ship in the past, am very involved in the program, and pitched/organized the idea.  I have little idea what these three talented people will produce from this experience, but rest assured I will link to it here when it happens.

The JR is an incredible international treasure for the world of science but, as she spends nearly her entire life at sea, few people have heard of her.   Soooo...if you want a little more insight into some of the science that has resulted from deep sea drilling you can shoot over to my dad's blog Science Musings.  Here you can see some more of this impressive stop, the engine room.....

 The engine room controls seven 16 cylinder diesel engines for a total of 5200 horsepower.  The control panel in first pic runs the propellers, drill floor, lights, AC, water distillation, etc., namely the entire ship.

The engine room is a thing of beauty.  Seriously, Martha Stewart would approve (is that color Turkey Hill sage???)----look at that tool rack!  What I can't convey is heat so great the handrails are hot to the touch and noise so loud that one can only communicate with hand signals.

The derrick you saw before....we can drill holes many kilometers deep into the Earth's crust in the deepest parts of the ocean with a shipboard dynamic positioning system that can keep ship on station (within a few meter circle) for months at a time.  

The only pool on this ship....the moon pool goes through the center of ship below the derrick.

 Over 15 kilometers of drill pipe is onboard.

 The rig floor with the trap door over the moon pool closed.  Tomorrow, the Bridge and Galley.  (Still looking for the craft room  ;-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Transiting the Panama Canal

 The JR passing through Miraflores Locks (thanks for screen cap Tom!)

It is surprisingly low-tech.  Here are rope handlers bringing us the tie line in a dingy.

 Boat is tied to "mules", little cog railways cars, on either side.  They will pull us through locks.

As we get into narrow section of lock the rope from other side is thrown aboard.  The ropes are used to haul on the steel cables attached to the mules.

Approaching the second set of locks, San Miguel Locks

 On the Chagras River section.  It's really hard to believe these container ships don't roll over all the time.

 On Lake Gatun, the large artificial lake formed when the Chagras River was dammed.

Going back down to sea level through the final set of locks, Gatun Locks.

The Atlantic in the distance!  Another successful transit over the continental divide and lots of sunburned faces in the mess hall in the evening....